December 8, 2014 4 minute read
I’m quickly learning that pregnancy doesn’t just come with personal changes; it comes with changes to how people react around you. Suddenly you have no private life. Your boobs, belly, aches, gas, digestion, and everything in-between are all up for discussion. Not only that, your decisions are up for debate too. The responsibility of having your body nurture and grow a child is stressful enough without having every other person question if you’re doing it right.
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a post by Tara Teng about comments on belly size during pregnancy. I thought it was awesome that this woman was speaking out about it, but I didn’t feel the same. Up until that point the only comments I’d received were about how early I was showing, how much my belly had grown, and how big I was getting. You may think that, as a model, comments on growing larger would be distressing. Not in my case. I’ve been thin my whole life, and weight gain has been a struggle for me on occasion. So the fact that I was getting comments on my rapidly growing belly was reassuring – I must be nurturing this babe right! Go me!
Alas, nearly a week after that things started to change. The notes about the size of my stomach were becoming more frequent, but they were also pertaining to how small I was. Small?! I wasn’t sure why I suddenly moved into the small belly category, but it definitely wasn’t because I was shrinking. I was still eating balanced meals, exercising, taking my prenatals, and doing the best I could to care for this little boy growing inside me. I was only small to these people because I wasn’t fitting their idea of what a pregnant woman should look like.
These new comments frustrate me. All of the sudden I understand what Tara meant when she said: “when people say that my bump is small, it makes me feel like all the effort that my body has put into growing this little human is for nothing. I feel so unaccomplished every time someone says I look small…and pregnancy is hard work!” Amen. It was after those first few days of comments that I realized that people really don’t have a right to comment on the size of a woman during her pregnancy (or ever, but that’s a can of worms to open another time). My doctor isn’t worried and neither am I. I’m proud of this growing belly! My bump is right on track for where I should be and this babe is a healthy as could be. I’m bothered by comments about my size…but in pregnancy or not, my body can’t be compared to anyone else’s. Each woman is different, and each body will change differently in pregnancy. My body at 23 weeks can’t be judged next to to a 5’3″ woman’s body at 23 weeks, nor should it.
This goes for the decisions a mother makes during her pregnancy too. When you find out you’re expecting you get slapped in the face with a long list of foods that you can and can’t eat. The “can’t” list often seems to be a lot longer than the “can” list and it’s overwhelming. But this wasn’t always the case. As my parent’s and grandparent’s generation like to point out to me, they didn’t have all these “silly rules” when they were having kids. Yes, I know you smoked or drank or ate brie cheese and all of your children turned out fine, but I am choosing not to. That’s my right. I don’t want to eat soft cheeses, sushi, deli meat, raw or undercooked eggs or drink alcohol on occasion. Please don’t make it seem like I’m being unnecessarily cautious because I’ve made these decisions based on research. That same respect should also be offered for those who choose to make different decisions. Each woman can and will make choices that are exactly right for her, her baby, and her pregnancy.
So if she turns down that caesar salad with homemade dressing at your dinner party, fight back the eye roll. If she passes on the unpasteurized fresh squeezed juice, I beg you not to make her explain herself. And if she is sipping on a half glass of wine with dinner, don’t bring out the dogs. She’s tired – she’s growing a human, and she shouldn’t have to defend herself every step of the way through the incredible experiences that come with life during pregnancy. Chances are it took a long time to come to that decision, and while discussions are always welcome, speaking with the intention of swaying her from that choice is just not ok.
At the end of the day, pregnancy is a beautiful thing. It’s unique for each woman and yet it unites us all the same. Each belly is perfect and each researched decision is right. Think twice before you tell a stranger, friend, sister, or relative otherwise. Be respectful.